A) Meet Basic Water Service Levels

 A) Development Goal: Meet Basic Water Availability Service Levels

Rationale: Beneficiaries should have year-round access to adequate quantities of water within 1 km of their homes and with minimum wait times. Failure to meet these requirements jeopardizes health as water use for hygiene will fall significantly.

Target 1: Year-Round Water Availability (3 Points)

In the hot season, water is needed more than ever to replenish sweat loss.  Intermittent streams and shallow dug wells go dry.

While water tables fall during the hot season, Lifewater wells should continue producing water at a rate of at least 2 gallons per minute over a 2 hour period of continuous pumping. If a well produces at least this amount of water, hand pumping to fill buckets should be able to continue without having to wait for the well to recharge.

Having a well with good yield is only part of the determination whether basic service levels are met. As explained below, the number of users and the distance/time to collect water need to be considered.

Application Story: Grinding Teeth & Rock


 Target 2: Greater than 90% of Users within 1 Km (3 Points)

The Operational Target of more than 90% of the users being within 1 KM of the pump is a critical health measure because people use a lot less water if wells are located far from their home.

While water use is optimized if pumps are within 100m of peoples homes (intermediate service level), people's water use continues to meet the basic service level at pump distances up to 1,000 m or 30 minute total collection time. Beyond this, water consumption drops significantly, putting health at risk (Cairncross S, 1987, “The benefits of water supply”, In Pickford, J (ed) Developing World Water. Grosvenor Press, London).

Although health gains derived from increased access between 100m and 1,000m distances appear limited, there are other important gains in relation to increased time for activities such as child-care, food preparation, and educational opportunity for girls 

Application Story: "The Girl Child"

From 2004-2007, there was building awareness within Lifewater about the link between water hauling distance and girl’s performance in school. Several teachers spoke about girls being too tired to pay attention in school and having too little time before dark to do homework.

It was Hannah, a grade 10 Lifewater volunteer, who made the connection when they attended an African school and spoke to the girls who were coming late and tired to school. They talked about getting up well before dawn to walk to distant water holes. They told of attacks by animals and even rape on remote paths. They talked about having to do these chores again after school and having no light to do homework when they were done.

The most moving letter we received about girls and water came from a women’s self-help group in Kenya in 2007. Read a village's letter about the “Girl Child"


Target 3: 150-600 Users per Well

(Points: >600 = "0", 451-600 = "2", 301-450 = "3", 150-300 = 2, <150 = "1")

The World Health Organization has determined that a minimum of 7.5 litres/person/day safe water will meet the domestic requirements of most people. Domestic requirements include water used for drinking, cooking, food preparation and personal hygiene.

Based on this domestic requirement and assuming that it takes 2 minutes to rinse a bucket and pump it full of water, a village of 600 people will require the pump to be operated continuously for 4 hours in the morning and four hours in the late afternoon. These times drop to three hours in villages of 450 people and two hours in villages of 300 people:

Village Size

Variable Description








 Number of people whose daily need served from one bucket





 Litres in a 5-gallon bucket









 Trips to water source each morning and evening




 Minutes to wash and fill a bucket




Number of hours pumping each morning and evening

The United Nations' “Millennium Development Agenda” included discussion of establishing a target of 300 people per handpump. However, this was never formalized and by 2015, there were still 663 million people without access to an improved drinking water source!

In that year, the UN presented “Agenda 2030” which includes Target 6.1: “By 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all”. The concept of “equitable access” is explained as users having access to safe drinking water within 100 metres of their homes.

Lifewater Canada believes it is unrealistic to expect this target to be met by 2030. In response, we have placed a high priority on providing access to safe drinking water across all of our service areas. After this has been achieved, we will go back to these communities and provide additional water systems where communities have proven their commitment to project maintenance and where there are more than 450 users per water system.


The smaller the population of a village, the less time their well must be operational each day, which mean less handpump wear and tear. But as village size decreases, residents need to contribute more and more towards the initial well project and its annual maintenance. As an extreme example, in a village of 45 families, raising $450 towards a new well would require each family to contribute $10. If that same village had only three families, each would have to contribute an unaffordable $150!

The same issue applies to annual pump maintenance costs. It's why extra assessment is required when contemplating drilling in small villages of less than 150 people. There is no point spending a large sum of money drilling a well if the population cannot afford to maintain it over time.

Application Story: You Don’t Roast a Dog Quickly


Target 4: Less than 5 minutes wait time at a pump (1 point)

As the number of people relying on the same pump increases, so do potential wait times at a pump. But equally important are user schedules. Lifewater has observed huge lines of people waiting for water in villages where everyone has to report for work at the nearby rubber plantation at 9 AM, at military barracks where all the soldiers have to report for duty at 7 AM, or at boarding schools where classes start at 8 AM.

The main point for having this development target is that it is important to understand local priorities and pressures. There is no single “correct” number for how many beneficiaries should be supplied by each handpump.

Application Story: The Bucket Tree


Every $1 you give provides a child with safe water for a year!

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